This week is a big week for me: my doctor shows finally return to primetime television! I have been waiting a long time since the plane crash cliff hanger finale of last season’s “Grey’s Anatomy” for my tv counterparts to return. Last night I was taken by surprise– just after the first elimination round of “Dancing With the Stars” I had walked outside to answer a friend’s phone call on my cell, when my husband appeared and whispered, “I’m going to bed, but I’m recording the season premier of “Private Practice” for you.” Needless to say, the phone call ended very quickly, for I have been a doctor show junkie practically since birth, or at least since the handsome Dr.Kildare first picked up a scapel on primetime.
When “Grey’s Anatomy” appeared as a mid season replacement in 2005, I was barraged with phone calls from several of my friends, not physicians, who reported it as a “must see.” I was a bit slow to respond, having missed the first several shows. When I finally turned it on, I was neither impressed nor amused. George, one of the interns, was tasked with the unpleasant business of telling his own father that dear old Dad had, as George put it, “The Big C”. I was indignant. I called my best friend, who was by then the show’s biggest fan. I told her emphatically, “THAT WOULD NOT HAPPEN!” Medical students and interns do not tell their own family members that their worst fears have been realized. That is a job for a senior resident! And besides, I harrumphed, “NO ONE CALLS IT THE BIG C ANYMORE!” I was astounded by the inaccuracy of the medical writing, not to even mention the mispronunciation of medical terms by the befuddled cast.
So how was it, that sometime later, between the third and the fifth season, that I found myself irrevocably sucked in by the story line, not only of “Grey’s Anatomy”, but also its spin-off show “Private Practice”? I think it was when I finally suspended my own experiences and reality and started to believe in the characters. Meredith and Derek, Izzy and Alex, and of course, the ever endearing Lexie, aka “Little Grey” were no longer just actors, stumbling over medical words they had never previously had reason to utter. They were people, who laughed and loved and lived and cried, and died. When George, the most inept of all the interns, was hit by a bus while shoving a stranger out of the way and maimed beyond recognition, he signaled his identity to his peers by signing 007 (“licensed to kill” as dubbed by his fellow interns) on Lexie’s hand. I wept for hours. Really, I did.
When Addison left for Santa Monica and “Private Practice,” I followed. “House” may have seen its last season, but that’s okay by me, because Addy and Jake are finally going to be happy. Why do I love these shows so much? I will tell you why. When I see these beautiful young women and men, dressed to the nines in their form fitting clothes, sporting sparkling make up and very good hair, and better shoes, having even better sex, I can pretend, just for a moment, that that’s the way it really truly was. It is a very good fantasy indeed.